New biomechanics exhibit debuts at Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Nathan Lesch, Staff Reporter

On Sept. 29, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) unveiled a new special exhibit entitled, “Built to Survive: Biomechanics.” Located in the museum’s Kahn Hall, a cavernous gallery situated left of the main entrance, the exhibit will last until April 28, 2019.

Although biomechanics is defined as “the mechanics of biological and especially muscular activity (as in locomotion or exercise)” by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, CMNH explores biomechanics more broadly by breaking the exhibit into six color-coded sections, each focusing on a different locomotive or structural component of organisms.

Built to Survive: Biomechanics is not your typical, dusty history exhibit; the darkened hall has a distinctly modern flair inspired by hands-on learning. The exhibit utilizes diagrams, interactive programs and videos to make biomechanics accessible to every museum guest.

Visitors enter a purple-tinged section which focuses on the unique materials and shapes created and found in organisms. Even before leaving the purple section, the rhythmic thump-thump of a heartbeat becomes overpowering. The second section teaches visitors about different ways species transport oxygen to their cells. Next, nestled prominently in this section is an interactive body heat detector which represents the process of heating and cooling. Sections on jaw mechanisms and locomotion fill out the far wall of the exhibit. Lastly, visitors are confronted with a cordoned off circle surrounding a chair and two paddles—the centerpiece of wing section. One at a time, the museum invites visitors to sit in the chair, pump the paddle up and down, and learn about wing shape.

Sabrina Carbonell, a Cleveland native, brought her granddaughter to visit soon after the exhibit was unveiled. Although Carbonell was familiar with the CMNH, she had not visited recently, forgetting just how valuable the museum is.

“I really like the exhibit and love the museum,” said Carbonell.

Carbonell also highlighted the importance of CMNH’s attempts to make information accessible to children, adding, “[CMNH] teaches [kids] about the [Cleveland] area and beyond.”